Week Three of SSC Academics

Lecture Preparation 101

Photo of students in a lecture

Dear Marauder,

Have you thought about your first lecture yet? Does it seem like it’s just around the corner? Or like it’s really far away? This week’s posts will give tools to work through the specific challenges of note-taking and distractions in lecture and today’s post in particular will get you thinking about what it means to be prepared for lectures more generally. Don’t worry–this won’t lead to more work. Tips and tricks actually make things go faster! Feel free to take pieces of what we suggest here and make it work for you–this isn’t a comprehensive step-by-step guide!


So where should you start? Here are a few things that you can do to make your days on campus a bit less stressful:

  • Make sure your electronics are charged the night before
  • Pack your bag the night before with lunch, stationary, and anything else you need to avoid scrambling in the morning
  • Check your syllabus/course outline to see what your upcoming lecture(s) will cover

  • Look at any material (slides, videos, lecture outlines, learning objectives) that your professor has uploaded
  • Read assigned texts beforehand and record notes and questions as you go
  • Get enough rest the night before so that you can attend class with an active mind

Lecture preparation is one of those things that comes with practice. You will soon realise how much time you need in the days before class to ensure that you have completed your readings and have a clear sense of the context of that lecture. At the beginning of the semester, you have a lighter workload, so I recommend taking advantage of this! Try to get ahead on your readings, test different note-taking strategies, and develop efficient reading skills (don’t worry–we’ll cover this in next week’s series!)

You might still be worried about managing independence, balance, scheduling or a number of other topics that we have yet to talk about together but remember that this takes time. Tomorrow’s and Thursday’s posts will provide you with a lot of information about and tips for note-taking at university, but there are a few ways that you can get ahead of this in your preparation.

Here are some things you can do to prepare for note-taking in lecture:

Choose a note-taking strategy that works well for you

In high school, I remember trying to hand-write everything the teacher said before I realised that it was okay (and actually wiser) to write things down in a way that made sense to me. In my first year, I regressed to my old ways sometimes and scrambled at times to capture everything said in lecture. In the classes where I actually took a moment to think about what the professor was trying to communicate, my notes were more coherent and useful to me when it came time to study for exams.

Practice Organization

Before you even get to lecture, you can make your life a little bit easier. Dating your notes and/or maintaining organised folders (real or digital) will help you when it comes time to revisit your notes. It is also a good idea to think about how you can build on the notes you took while doing assigned reading so that you can stay on track during lectures. After class, make connections with the readings and the notes you took on them so that you get a sense of the big picture and why you are learning what you are learning now.

If you have any hesitations about how you can best prepare for lecture, I would give you the following advice: trust yourself! By now, you’re likely well-aware that there are a lot of unique challenges at university, and lectures are a large piece of this puzzle. The good news is that you also have your own unique set of skills and you will learn how you can apply them to challenges you encounter. If you approach lectures knowing that you you can explore how best you connect to and process the information given to you, they might be a little less intimidating. Stay tuned for tomorrow’s post about note-taking and how to address the challenges it presents!




How do I prepare for lecture? How can I stay organised? Do I really need to do anything before I show up? Lecture Preparation 101 has the answers for you!

What makes note-taking difficult? What is my brain trying to do when I take notes? How can I get the most out of what my instructors say? Read Note-Taking 101 to find out!

What is going to distract me during lecture? Do my peers also get distracted? Is there anything that I can do to keep focused? Distraction 101 has the answers to these questions!

2 thoughts on “Lecture Preparation 101”

  1. What makes me feel prepared is to have as much information about what to expect as possible. I’m very organized, so I always have binders with dates already written down and I like to research as much as I can about the class I’m going to take to not encounter anything unexpected. My advice to a friend would be to go in with a focused mind. Even if you are not completely prepared for a class, if you are truly focused, the class feels easier on you.

    1. This is great advice! I love that you pointed out that organisation and focus can help you power through what might otherwise be a difficult task.

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